February 12th 2012, the day we announced our pregnancy to friends.
Trigger Warning: This post is about pregnancy and loss.
I realized recently that I never really wrote about or shared my miscarriage story. At the time it wasn't really something you saw much of on blogs. Trust me, I searched. In the years that have passed I have had a number of friends experience this type of loss and many of them have written beautifully honest posts about their experiences.
But, one of the things I have noticed is that still, the people who write about their loss are those who have been through extraordinary circumstance. Be it ectopic pregnancy, late term miscarriage, laboring after a miscarriage, multiple losses, all of their stories have been intense.
My story is not.
I did some research and numbers are confusing and fuzzy, but most studies seem to agree that between 15-20% of confirmed pregnancies end in miscarriage. A confirmed pregnancy, in this case, means a normal (not early detection) pregnancy test has confirmed a pregnancy after a missed period.
That is a lot of pregnancies.
One of the main reasons I haven't shared my story up to this point is a sense of shame. I felt foolish grieving a baby I had only known about for two weeks. Had I been pregnant when my mother was young there is a possibility I wouldn't even had taken a test and would have assumed I was just really late. But the fact is, I was pregnant in 2012 and I had spent two weeks loving the child inside of me. I share my story for all the mamas out there like me.
You are not alone.
It was in the last couple days of January 2012 that I found out I was pregnant. January had been a crazy month and it took almost a week for me to realize I was late. A home pregnancy test confirmed that I was in fact pregnant. It was the beginning of the week and my mom and sister were coming to visit that weekend. We toyed with the idea of sharing our news with them, but decided to wait till we had visited the free pregnancy center for an “official” pregnancy test to share our news. This didn't however stop me from texting my brother's wife in Nebraska with our news. A day later she texted back with news of her own and I am still amazed that I managed not to spill any secrets while my mom and sister were in town.
Thursday, February 9th about ten days after our home pregnancy test, we visited the local crisis pregnancy center for a “medically administered” pregnancy test. It was the only place in town that would do a free pregnancy test that could be used for insurance purposes. We had left our kids with his parents under the guise of “date night” so it was just the two of us when the nurse handed us the form that stated we were pregnant. Too excited to keep it to ourselves any longer we sat in the parking lot and called our families only to discover that my brother and his wife were making the same phone calls that night.
Friday, February 10th Josh had plans to drive to a near by city with some buddies. I dropped the kids of with his parents for a sleepover and headed home for some rest. I noticed some spotting that night but didn't worry too much. I had a large amount of spotting with my first pregnancy and intense cramps with my second both caused by dehydration. I drank a glass of water, put my feet up, and decided that was no need to call my husband and worry him.
Saturday, February 11th I picked the girls up from my in laws that afternoon and we went to visit Daddy at work. The spotting had come back so I mentioned in passing to my husband. He calmly reminded me of the spotting in my first pregnancy and told me not to worry.
Sunday February 12th by the time we got to church Sunday I had been spotting all morning. To ease my mind I sought out a friend who was a nurse educator for labor and delivery nurses. She reassured me of all the reason spotting could happen. She encouraged me to rest and pray, and if I was still concerned in a few days to call the doctor's office to see if I could move up my first visit.
Convinced that rest was the answer my husband picked up tale out and movies on the way home from church and parked me on the couch for the afternoon. It is a testament to his love that he sat and watched teenage vampire movies with me all afternoon.
It was around 4 pm that afternoon that everything shifted. Certain that dehydration was the primary culprit I had been drinking crazy amounts of water and, as a result taking constant trips to the bathroom. Everything was fine... until it wasn't. The brown spotting had changed to bright red.
I knew then that my baby was gone.
It took me a while to tell my husband. I went downstairs and sat in our recliner trying not to cry. I sent two text messages. One to my mom, one to my sister in law. “It's red.”
A few hours later the spotting changed to bleeding and I knew I had to tell Josh. I thought I made it clear. I guess I didn't. He still had hope. I fell asleep crying that night while he prayed for protection over our baby.
Monday February 13th Josh left for work that morning continuing to pray over the baby that I knew was gone. I was left with the task of calling various doctors offices and the pregnancy center trying to find some one who would see me. All of the had the same answer. “Sorry we can't help, go to the emergency room.”
His mom came and sat with our girls, a friend came and drove me to the ER. After a while Josh met us there.
Here is the thing about going to the emergency room for a miscarriage.
It isn't an emergency.
There is nothing they can do to stop it.You are bottom priority.
And so we sat, and sat, and sat. Friends brought us lunch. My sister called. I still hadn't told our siblings so I am not sure if I texted her or if my mom had told her, but she called. I stood in the waiting room staring out a window listening to her. “I'll come,” she said. “But only if you want me to.” I felt horrible asking her to come. It was beyond selfish asking her to take time off of work to drive from Maryland when there was nothing to be done. I couldn't answer. “You have to ask me Joy. I need you to tell me what you want.” More silence. “Come,” I said. “OK,” she said. “I'll be there.”
They take us back.
They draw blood.
They order an ultrasound.
I drink water till it hurts.
The nurse does the ultrasound and for a few fleeting moments she seems to see something. Our spirits perk up only to be dashed when we realize she thinks she sees something wrong with me.
It's not a baby.
It's not something wrong.
It's just nothing.
They still make us wait for blood work. The Dr. comes in and hands us lots of papers. He says things he thinks are helpful.
“There's no signs you were ever pregnant.”
“You probably had already lost the baby before the first pregnancy test.”
And as kind as his intentions are, what I hear is that I have no reason to grieve.
We quietly tell our families and post something simple on facebook. Conventional wisdom says you don't announce your pregnancy before 12 weeks to avoid situations like this. I have no regrets sharing our news when we did. Every baby should be celebrated, even if only for a few weeks. I am so thankful for those who not only celebrated with us but walked with us through the next few weeks with grace and concern.
Tuesday February 14th Valentine's Day. Josh fixes me breakfast in bed and the girls and he bring me my gift. He has to go to work and offers to call his mom but my sister is on her way so he goes and the girls and I wait for her. I don't remember much about her visit. I do know it was one of the most self sacrificing acts of love I have ever experienced. To say any more would be to tell a story that is not mine. And I will not attempt to do that.
And then life moved on.
We picked back up where we left off.
I went to MOPS that week.
We went on the trip had planned to TN and up to Ohio to see some of his family.
No one mentioned the miscarriage, so neither did we.
We went back to church.
No one mentioned the baby, and so neither did we.
Over the next few months two couples in our circle both experienced miscarriages ending in traumatic DNCs and a close friend delivered her baby girl stillborn at 20 weeks.
I kept silent, full of guilt because I was still grieving after such a “simple” and “uncomplicated” experience. I felt like my sadness was invalid. It was an early miscarriage with no complications. Had it been a different decade chances are I wouldn't even have known about it.
But I did.
I knew and loved my baby for two beautiful weeks.
October 2012 my mom came to visit. It was the weekend of my due date. We didn't really talk about it much until right before she left. She told me in many ways the hardest part was over. I could stop ticking down in my head what milestones we would be passing in the pregnancy. Now I could move on.
And she was right.
There are still days I miss our baby There are still moments I look at my brother's oldest son and wonder if we would have had a boy or girl and how they would have played together.
I have a wonderful, beautiful, full life. I have three amazing daughters. We were eventually blessed with our rainbow baby Anastasia which we found out means resurrection. It seems fitting as she resurrected hope and dreams we had placed aside.
But loss is loss and I four years later I am finally writing this blog post with no shame or embarrassment.
Having three healthy pregnancy doesn't change the fact that one of them ended too early.
Loosing a baby 8-10 weeks is still loosing a baby.
Just because it happens all the time doesn't mean it isn't devastating.
You don't have to have felt the baby move, or seen an ultra sound, or heard the heart beat to know you have a child inside of you and to love them like a mother.
There is no shame in your sorrow or your tears.
You are not alone.